UBS Profit Beats Estimates as Market Rally Lifts Securities Unit


 Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) -- UBS Group AG said profit more than tripled in the fourth quarter as rising interest rates and a rally in equities boosted the bank’s securities unit and U.S. wealth management.

Profit before tax rose to 848 million francs ($847 million) from 234 million francs a year earlier, the Zurich-based bank said Friday in a statement. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg had estimated earnings of 359 million francs, according to the median of seven estimates. UBS said it achieved 1.6 billion francs of net cost savings at year-end and is on track to meet a savings target of 2.1 billion francs by the end of 2017.

“Despite a very challenging market environment in 2016, we achieved solid results,” Chief Executive Officer Sergio Ermotti said in the statement.

Now in his sixth year as CEO, Ermotti has stepped up cost-cutting to help offset shrinking profit margins and is using technology to streamline wealth management, UBS’s main business since he scaled back the investment bank four years ago. He said this month that he expects to add about $50 billion in new assets across wealth management and asset management this year, with the U.S. looking like a “promising market” for the bank.

The Swiss lender, among a few European banks still facing a U.S. investigation over mortgage securities in the run-up to the 2008 crisis, set aside an additional 162 million francs to cover litigation expenses, less than analysts anticipated. Credit Suisse Group AG and Deutsche Bank AG last month agreed to a combined $12.5 billion in settlements to end similar Justice Department probes. Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc said Thursday that it will take a 3.1 billion-pound ($3.9 billion) charge in its fourth-quarter results for mortgage securities litigation.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jan-Henrik Förster in Zurich at jforster20@bloomberg.net, Jeffrey Vögeli in Zurich at jvogeli@bloomberg.net. To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael J. Moore at mmoore55@bloomberg.net, Cindy Roberts, Christian Baumgaertel

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